Climate Dynamics

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 615–631 | Cite as

Long-term summer temperature variations in the Pyrenees

  • Ulf Büntgen
  • David Frank
  • Håkan Grudd
  • Jan Esper


Two hundred and sixty one newly measured tree-ring width and density series from living and dry-dead conifers from two timberline sites in the Spanish Pyrenees were compiled. Application of the regional curve standardization method for tree-ring detrending allowed the preservation of inter-annual to multi-centennial scale variability. The new density record correlates at 0.53 (0.68 in the higher frequency domain) with May–September maximum temperatures over the 1944–2005 period. Reconstructed warmth in the fourteenth to fifteenth and twentieth century is separated by a prolonged cooling from ∼1450 to 1850. Six of the ten warmest decades fall into the twentieth century, whereas the remaining four are reconstructed for the 1360–1440 interval. Comparison with novel density-based summer temperature reconstructions from the Swiss Alps and northern Sweden indicates decadal to longer-term similarity between the Pyrenees and Alps, but disagreement with northern Sweden. Spatial field correlations with instrumental data support the regional differentiation of the proxy records. While twentieth century warmth is evident in the Alps and Pyrenees, recent temperatures in Scandinavia are relatively cold in comparison to earlier warmth centered around medieval times, ∼1450, and the late eighteenth century. While coldest summers in the Alps and Pyrenees were in-phase with the Maunder and Dalton solar minima, lowest temperatures in Scandinavia occurred later at the onset of the twentieth century. However, fairly cold summers at the end of the fifteenth century, between ∼1600–1700, and ∼1820 were synchronized over Europe, and larger areas of the Northern Hemisphere.


Temperature Reconstruction Medieval Warm Period Summer Temperature Reconstruction Great Alpine Region Recent Warming Trend 



We thank F.H. Schweingruber for site selection, the National Park d’Aigüestortes I Estany de Sant Maurici (Jordi Vicente i Canillas) for sampling permission and logistic support, R.J.S. Wilson for field assistance and discussion. J. Dessens kindly provided instrumental data from the Pic du Midi. Spatial field correlations were generated using the KNMI Climate Explorer ( Supported by the SNF project NCCR-Climate and Euro-Trans (#200021-105663), and the EU project Millennium (#017008-2).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulf Büntgen
    • 1
  • David Frank
    • 1
  • Håkan Grudd
    • 2
  • Jan Esper
    • 1
  1. 1.Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Dendro Sciences UnitBirmensdorfSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary GeologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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